The torch has been lit — and it is virtual. That’s the news from living rooms, gaming chairs, and indoor cycling trainers worldwide, which collectively serve as the venues of the first-ever Olympic Esports Series, or OES.
The global event is a “virtual and simulated sports” competition, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said, and its inaugural iteration kicked off on March 1. Yes, this is real (or as real as video games were ever intended to be) — multiple International Sports Federations joined the IOC in sanctioning the games.
The first games of the virtual Olympiad cover nine sports, including baseball, taekwondo, motor sport, and dance.
“Strike your way” to the OES baseball finals in WBSC eBASEBALL: POWER PROS for Nintendo Switch, or punch the gas and drift to the checkered flag for the motor sport title in Gran Turismo.
It’s unclear whether E-Olympians will compete under their country’s banner, or as free-ranging citizens of the planet.
If you’re wondering, “Can anyone participate in the events?” The IOC answers in its FAQ that, “entry location requirements” apply.
How to Qualify
Various qualifying formats will weed out the world’s best in each E-sport, and athletes must submit to terms and conditions.
Six of the sports will entertain open qualifiers — in the true spirit of the Olympics, archery, baseball, chess, sailing, tennis, and motor sport will welcome amateurs of all stripes, from any corner of the earth.
Taekwondo, dance, and cycling will be invitation-only. In cycling, for instance, select qualifiers from the Zwift Grand Prix and 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will get the opportunity to ride.
Hardware and software vary — cyclists will, of course, need a trainer rig that meets OES standards.
But chess players? Take whatever you’re reading this article on, go to Chess.com, make an account, and start parlaying pieces.
It all culminates in Singapore from June 22 to 25 at a live finals event called Olympic Esports Week. Qualifying kicked off on March 1 and ends on May 15.
So, grab the sticks and get after it — if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a world-class E-athlete.